Customer Service: Don’t Forget the Follow-Up

by Ken Mueller on May 29, 2012 · 14 comments

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camden yards1 300x225 Customer Service: Dont Forget the Follow UpThis past weekend my 17-year old son decided to treat me to a father/son day by taking me to a Baltimore Orioles game. He paid for the tickets, drove me down, and enjoyed a nice afternoon together watching baseball.

Apart from the game, one of the things that struck me about the Orioles organization was their customer service. Once we purchased the tickets online we received an email thanking us for our purchase, with a link to download and print out our tickets. Good start, but it got better.

The day before the game the Orioles sent me another email, this time a reminder email with game information. The email included a look at the starting pitchers for the game, as well as links to information about parking, and how to get around the ball park, etc. This was helpful as I decided to print out directions just to make sure we knew where to go once we hit the city.

The game was fun, even though the Orioles lost, and my son and I enjoyed our first visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. But what really took me by surprise was the email I received the day after the game offering me a recap of the game and thanking me for attending. The email included the basic box score, a link to video highlights, a survey to offer feedback, and the chance to purchase tickets for future games.

orioles email Customer Service: Dont Forget the Follow Up

Sure, all of these emails were automated, but they all had my name it, and the timing was perfect. If I were an Orioles fan and lived closer, it might have had an impact on me going to future games.

I think this is where a lot of businesses fall down; they forget the followup.

Customer service starts the moment you have your first contact with a customer and theoretically never ends. The followup email from the Orioles was a nice touch. The game was over and I’d moved on, but they weren’t done with me. They wanted to remind me of my time at the park and nurture me along to become a repeat customer.

Now remember, I’m a Phillies fan. To the core. I’ve gone to Phillies games in the past and have gotten that first ticket purchase email, but never the 2nd or 3rd email. All teams and businesses could learn from this. Stick with your customers even after their purchase. Provide them with useful and helpful information. And invite them to seek you out again.

Certainly there can be a fine line between this type of customer service and becoming spammy, but it’s worth figuring out how to make it happen. Also, remember that proactive customer service is just as important, if not more so, than reactive customer service.

Oh, and kudos to the Orioles’ organization. Every employee with whom we came in contact was incredibly pleasant and helpful. Despite the heat, they seemed genuinely happy to be there. When my son went to purchase a program, the first woman told us she was sold out but told us where we could find one. When the next guy told us he was sold out, he also mentioned that he’d be getting more in about ten minutes, and we could hang out and wait. Sure enough, the box of programs came as promised. From the ushers to the concession employees, everyone was having a good time, and that made our experience that much better.

Thank you, Baltimore Orioles, for a great experience.

How are you following up with your customers? Do they know that you value them even after you’ve gotten their money?

 Customer Service: Dont Forget the Follow Up
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13 comments
mcahalane
mcahalane like.author.displayName 1 Like

You know who else really does this right? The Nets. Amazingly responsive, personal and friendly. Right there via email and social media... meeting their customers where they are.And I love Camden Yards - such a beautiful park! 

annedreshfield
annedreshfield like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Ken, great post. I agree with @3HatsComm -- there is definitely a fine line between service and spam. I recently ate at an excellent restaurant in San Francisco and checked in on Foursquare. Immediately after I did so, the restaurant tweeted at me that night, thanking me for checking in and asking me to review them on Yelp!. The next day, they tweeted at me again, thanking me for visiting and asking for a review. About three days after that, they tweeted at me again! As you can imagine, the first time I was mildly impressed, and I was annoyed every time after that. It didn't help that I checked their Twitter page and found their stream was full of the exact same tweets to other diners. Company/customer interaction can indeed be made special, but it's a very fine line. 

Latest blog post: Getting Back into the Groove

vmaione
vmaione like.author.displayName 1 Like

Glad you had a good day at the park, Ken. We go to a few games a year at Camden Yards. Kudos to the O's!

 

3HatsComm
3HatsComm like.author.displayName 1 Like

It can be a very fine line between service and spam; all that interaction, constant repetition in the name of engagement with you -- esp. when you know it's automated marketing -- lacks authenticity in 'caring for the customer' when really you know it's 'caring to sell more tickets.'

 

IDK even so I personally, were this say the Braves --- esp. in light of their latest skid of crappiness??!!! ahem --- if they were to follow up w/ an email for marketing, I'd say do it but do it 'right' already! Highlights, recaps are nice; survey - they really need to make that worth your/my time, which brings me to the biggest kick I'm on right now: WIIFM. What's in it for me to read this email? If it's not a "THANK YOU' past ticket buyer, here's a REAL discount for future purchases that only you can use" I'm reaching for the delete button, 'follow-up' or not.

 

And FWIW I totally think follow-up is critical, proactive CRM is not only essential to preventing issues before they happen, it's also probably the best way to find new opportunities, develop real relationships, mine for good PR juju and all that jazz. 

mcahalane
mcahalane like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 @3HatsComm Here's an example of what the Nets did: my son loves to draw, and especially to design sports logos. I tweeted one he did for the Nets (with their move to a new location, they need a new logo, right?). They saw the picture, replied right away and enthusiastically. (Said son is 12 BTW). That in itself really impressed me. Then I got a direct message, and a request for our address - they sent him a hand-written note, a jersey and some other Nets stuff. Talk about a die-hard 12 yo fan over the moon!They're really good about sales as well - one of the few telemarketing calls that don't make me growl. And that's because they're very personal, they know how to listen, and they never push. It's always about what they can do for the customer, not what the customer can do for them. Smart marketing, IMHO.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

 @mcahalane Very smart - starting with listening, then engaging. Lots of brands do it right, without being to heavy handed. "Fan" businesses are great examples; whether it's TV shows or music, those that rely on their fans for support seem to have figured it out. I know in ATL a radio station used to host a charity "Rock 'n Jock" softball game; lots of people signed autographs and chatted w/ fans a little, but I was very impressed by some musicians who really took the time to show their appreciation. FWIW. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @3HatsComm It's definitely a fine line, and one we have to constantly work on. For me, their approach was helpful, and not spammy at all. They positioned it well, and got to the point. Certainly a baseball team has a lot more leeway in some of these areas than some other business or retailer, because as fans, we generally have a lot more invested in them than a normal business. We are truly "fans"...

 

And as a Phillies fan, I'll try to ignore that you're a Braves fan. They disappointed me this week by not beating up on the first place Nats!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @KenMueller It really does vary per brand, per business, per customer; that's why whenever clients ask for 'concrete' numbers in terms of ads, reach, frequency, hits, clicks, etc. -- the answer is always the same, "I can't answer that, it depends." It depends on if it's B2B, if it's B2C, depends on the buy-in and if this is an impulse buy like trying a restaurant via a daily deal or if it's a $$$ investment in your home or business. FWIW.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I'm a little biased towards the O's since I am a Baltimore native but happy to see the coverage and glad you enjoyed your experience there Ken! It truly is one of the classiest ballparks in the majors. I hope that perhaps one day we can get you to bleed orange and black instead of the Philly colors.

 

Since referrals and peer reviews play such an important part in new customer development and retention, it's a surprise that more companies don't proactively reach out to their communities to provide value added experiences and timely follow up info like that you received from the O's. It sure is a chance to stretch your creative muscles and provide a memorable experience that keeps customers coming back for more. My fear is that many companies are often more interested in conquering the next great battle rather than tending to the needs of their troops in the field. And yes, that comment is a subtle reference to the Memorial Day holiday.

 

Have a great week and thanks for the post! 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @John_Trader1 Referrals are the most important thing for most companies, and yet they ignore that aspect of their business. And you're right; once you're gone, they move on to the next. A lot of thinking about the short term and quick results, rather than the long term and longer lasting results. 

 

Thanks for stopping by, John!

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